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Toy Fair 2015: Hasbro Q And A - Your Questions Answered!

Posted by Paul | February 16, 2015 at 11:39 AM ET

This year’s Hasbro Entertainment Brand Preview Event was like no other I have ever attended in the past. It was utterly deflating and frustrating for Star Wars collectors, but for me especially since I was hoping that what I heard rumored would be officialy revealed. It was fantastic if you weren’t a Star Wars collector obviously. I certainly don't want to rain on anyone else's parade who is into other things besides Star Wars. There were many great products announced in the Marvel and Transformers lines. And those into My Little Pony and Jurassic World have many great things to anticipate. The kicker however for me was that the big Star Wars reveal news (which even had its own kiosk in the showroom) was a farting Furbacca. Not a single Star Wars basic figure in any scale or format was announced or even discussed. Because we are a “Star Wars” fan site, let’s talk about what is and ISN’T happening even if it isn't much. (more....)

I was fully prepared that nothing from The Force Awakens would be shown. Hasbro couldn’t have been more upfront about that. But what I didn’t expect AT ALL was no new showings of anything 3.75” or 6” related. Here is the reason for that. You know that expression WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzy wig”)? But instead of “what you see is what you get” we can probably revise it to “what we have seen thus far is all we’re getting”. Hasbro confirmed that what we have seen through the NYCC Preview Party is ALL that we are going to see this year…. through Fall 2015. All confirmed figures not shown (like Anakin Skywalker (Space Suit) for example and the rumored “Return Of The Jedi” wave of figures (that were “supposed” to be revealed at this year’s Toy Fair) have been pushed out/temporarily cancelled/permanently cancelled/unknown status out to (take your pick) beyond Fall 2015. Going forward we can look at the Star Wars line in two eras of time: BTFA and ATFA (before The Force Awakens and after The Force Awakens). What has been show through NYCC falls under the BTFA banner. And that’s all we’re seeing until the new film.

We also have to apprise you of some disappointing clarifications. Hasbro has apologized for the mix up, but the “Endor Leia” they leaked to us at NYCC is the Saga Legends basic figure that we revealed a few weeks ago, there isn’t a an Ewok Celebration Leia coming at the moment. Yes, our hearts sank just as much as yours did just now. They were mistaken when they leaked me that little tidbit. Other “bad” news involves the Rebel Fleet Trooper and Imperial Navy Commander repacks. That’s exactly what they are – straight repacks. There is no new tooling at all. We also need to clarify if the Rebel Fleet Trooper is still on tap. He made have gotten pushed out further with Anakin (Space Suit). There is some good news however. Although pushed out to ATFA, the 6” Captain Rex is still being worked on and will see eventual release. Those early case assortments we posted last month have also changed too. We are seeking out Hasbro’s further clarification on these details and will post an update when ready. Suffice it to say, plans have aggressively changed since last year and Hasbro is pulling back how many figures get released so that more bottle-necking doesn’t occur. In short, we will have exact details on what is definitely coming shortly for you.

The Q&A (for me) has become a bit of a Groundhog Day (the film, not the holiday) thing for me. I feel like we ask the same questions, and without any disrespect to Hasbro, we get the same canned responses. Please don’t misinterpret my frustration as that I am angry with the Hasbro team, because I am not. I have great fondness and respect for Joe Ninnivaggi and Jeff Labovitz; two of the men from Hasbro procuring the Star Wars brand for our hobby. They have a lot of things working against them in the moment and trust me when I say their frustration shares most of our frustration. They still believe the Star Wars brand is for kids and collectors alike. The biggest hurdle is distribution. And while the “know-it-alls” have adamantly stated “it’s the port negotiations gridlock” we can now happily tell them that they’re wrong. It’s only a part of the issue. There are multiple pieces to the puzzle creating the distribution issues we’re all seeing in the USA. For example, there is an immoderate amount of Rebels Saga Legends wave 1 waiting to make its way to stores. There are plenty of “Choppers” ready for everyone. And while most of us will shake our heads in confusion on why these aren’t in stores, there are so many things going on that it is almost impossible to reconcile. But they’re working on it.

Frustrated more by this response, I asked about a specific example. I asked about assortment numbers and why they don’t change often enough. I was told that “stores” don’t like this. (Ironic isn’t it since stores are one of the last places you’ll find Star Wars figures these days.) I asked if Hasbro explains how not discounting old product so new can come in ultimately hurts retail’s bottom line (via new assortment numbers) and was basically regurgitated the same answer that stores don’t like this. I asked for more concrete examples but was unable to get any more details. I tried.

Hasbro assured me that we will be happy during the ATFA era (Fall 2015). They’ve explained that they will be including something for everyone during this time. They have a lot of great things planned and it should put a smile on all of our faces. 2015 is a long year, but hopefully it will be worth our while.

Before we hit the Q&A, I have to tell you a short story. My neighbors invited me over to their house yesterday for their son’s 6th birthday party. He is obsessed with Star Wars. He received a tons of Star Wars LEGO that he was going rabid over so I thought my gift of a few Saga Legends figures would hardly make an impact to him. To my surprise, he was thrilled to get the Stormtrooper and held it for the rest of the day. Something tells me that 3.75” is still where it’s at and that this should still be Hasbro’s main focus. Because right now the basic figure line feels more like a sub-line than a main line.

That being said, my Q&A this year is about as lackluster as Hasbro’s presentation. There are a lot of non-answers and a lot of one or two word answers (no one’s fault really). And there are a lot of things that couldn’t be answered. I even tried to get out an unannounced figure out of them but was denied this year. There were quite a few interruptions this year during my Q&A. Granted, our Q&A is always ridiculously long and others were there to rightfully ask their questions too, but it can break your rhythm and I felt like I couldn’t elaborate as much as I could in the past. We will do our best to provide clarifications in the comments if you have further questions.

So, without further adieu, here is our 2015 NY Toy Fair Hasbro Q&A:

Q: Can we expect any more Vintage Collection repacks in the 3.75" Black Series line this year, or will every TBS figure from this point forward be a new or new-ish release?
A: No. Everything that has been shown through NYCC is it.

Q: Where are the action figures for the female characters from Rebels, like Hera, Sabine, or Maketh Tua? Male characters like Ezra and Kanan have been released multiple times already in many formats and scales, yet the best we've seen on shelves so far is a single Sabine with a non-removable helmet and a yet-to-be-released Hera, both of whom are packed with re-released Stormtroopers. Female characters have always played an integral role in the Star Wars saga, from Leia in the original trilogy to Padme in the prequels to Ahsoka and Asaaj in The Clone Wars and have always been among the first characters released in figure form, yet for this new chapter in the Saga, they've barely been a blip on the radar.
A: Hasbro actually has some great new characters from Rebels hitting shelves now such as Sabine and Hera and have recently been releasing more females within our Black Series and Saga Legends line such as Mara Jade, Toryn Farr, Bastila Shan, Luminara Unduli, Padma Amidala (Geonosis), and a number of great Leia’s such as Ep IV, Endor, and the awesome Boushh disguise that was revealed at NYCC. (Editor's Note: Hasbro has asked to have this answer revised.)

Q: With the port/shipping delays on the West Coast, are there any plans to re-ship Star Wars Rebels/Saga Legends figures from wave 1 to meet the demand?
A: It’s not an issue of re-shipping. It’s an issue of getting out what’s already ready. Hasbro plans to keep supporting Rebels.

Q: Does Hasbro plan to eliminate producing super articulation 3.75 inch figures altogether, or do they plan on reducing it for the line, for example, between 5-10 points of articulation, to keep the line cost effective and appease collectors?
A: Hasbro plans to continue to supporting collector-focused figures.

Q: Other than what has been announced, Are there any plans for more figures from Star Wars The Clone Wars?
A: Yes. Rex is still on tap for the 6” line and more will be announced past the Fall of 2015.

Q: In the past we've seen some fun and interesting accessories included with basic figures, but recently it seems the figures have been released with a lot less, or in some very recent examples, not a single accessory or even a weapon. is this a trend that will continue?
A: Hasbro would like to keep accessories in the line for all characters. They explained that the Wookiees Mission Series figures were larger and more materials were used. I then explained that Yoda and R2-D2 should have balanced out the budget. They then went back to the answer that they’d like to keep accessories with all figures in these lines. The vast majority of Star Wars figures do indeed come with accessories, and that the two Wookiee-pack is a small exception.

Q: With LEGO allowed to put out sets from the old non-canon "Legends" stories such as the Shadow Troopers pack based on 'The Force Unleashed', or Anakin's Starfighter from 'Clone Wars (2003/04), is it possible that we'll ever get action figures and the like from those stories, as well at some point?
A: It’s possible. Hasbro was trying to stay within what Pablo Hidalgo (and others) had deemed that the cannon of Star Wars. But exceptions like these could open the window for other options in the future.

Q: Do you have any plans to produce more 6-inch figures from "The Clone Wars"?
A: Not right now, past Fall 2015, likely.

Q: Hasbro.. I used to buy a figure or two every week. I haven't spent any money on your company since November last year. I am not interested in 6" or 5POA 3.75". I was going to collect the Rebels line but due to a lack of availability I have lost interest in them and have no desire to collect them now. I know I am not the only collector that feels this way. Are you concerned that you are losing customers by not having the abundance of SA 3.75" that you used to have? I'm pretty much done with collecting as it is in its current state. I only collect Star Wars figures and I am sick of seeing nothing but junky overpriced Command crap. Are you aware that in New Zealand a lot of retailers aren't even carrying figures now?
A: Hasbro said that they would discuss this with our colleagues in AUS/NZ but that this was surprising since we absolutely still sell our figures in NZ along with the rest of our full line, and that we continue to ship to this region.

Q: Do you have plans to release a Star Wars Celebration Anaheim Exclusive?
A: No.

Q: Will the fan's choice poll be coming back, and if so, would it be for the 3.75 SA line, the Saga Legends line or 6 inch? How about all three?
A: Hasbro has developed something called the Pulse Initiative (JTA will also be part of this new group). It will actually be headed up by Derry DePriest who formally saw over the Star Wars brand. This is the platform for which something like this would happen. Good things are in store for collectors.

Q: Are there any plans to incorporate Super-articulated Rebels figures into either Black Series line?
A: Hasbro has talked about it for the 6” scale.

Q: Would Hasbro consider doing a subscription based action figure line targeted towards collectors similar to Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics or the G.I. Joe Collectors Club?
A: Probably not. (Editor’s Note: There probably wouldn’t be enough support to make this cost feasible. Everyone would be waiting for the one action figure they wanted and likely nothing else. Paul’s own two cents.)

Q: Are there plans for any NEW 3 3/4 inch scaled vehicles from the Original Trilogy?
A: Not right now.

Q: Who thought Star Wars Command was going to fly off the shelves?
A: Hasbro conceded that Star Wars Command is not living up to its expectations. There was great excitement for this line and Hasbro has high hopes. It just didn’t pan out exactly how they had hoped.

Q: With all the non 3 3/4" figure product clogging the store shelves don't you realize the 3 3/4" action figures are the bread and butter of Star Wars toys?
A: Absolutely. This is where it all started. But Star Wars is for fans of all ages.

Q: You have said several times that the 3 3/4" Black Series line is for collectors (versus the 5 poa line being for children/parents). Why, then, have there been so few collector-oriented character choices in the line rather than more-of-the-same Main character rereleases?
A: Two words – Mosep Bineed

Q: Why [do] Star Wars Mashers (a line for kids) [have] more articulation that the Star Wars Rebels and Saga Legends Line?
A: Star Wars Mashers are a totally different play pattern than action figures. The articulation is needed to switch out parts and be functional. It’ action figure building.

Q: Since you've essentially mishandled every release since TPM Vintage Collection assortment in 2012, what makes you think collectors and parents (buying on behalf of their children) have any faith left in Hasbro and their ability to service the needs of the SW line especially in a new movie release year?
A: (Editor’s Note: Sorry, I just couldn’t ask Hasbro this question.)

Q: With the new films quickly approaching, how does Hasbro plan to keep up with the new content seeing a new movie will be released yearly starting this year? Rebels figures have barely been distributed while the past few years have been even more horrendous. Can we expect to see figures from The Clone Wars & OT/PT trilogies to be incorporated into these lines or this is the last "hoorah"?
A: No comment. (TFA related question.)

Q: With merchandising and promotional material for The Force Awakens bound to start kicking into full swing, where does that leave the Black Series line? Does it stop for the 3 3/4" line and continue only with the 6" or is it the end of The Black Series as a whole? One assumes that there will be a The Force Awakens focused line of action figures. If that were to happen, how does the 6" move forward? Up till now I have always called the 6" figures 'The Black Series 6" '. It would take some getting used to to go to something else, mostly because The Black Series was the starting point for the 6" line, unlike the 3" figures which have had tons of lines before this one. It sounds like a more mature line of action figures. Does that end when The Force Awakens comes out?
A: No comment. (TFA related question.)

Q: The general consensus of the Black Series packaging for both the 6" and 3 3/4 " lines is that it's dull and a far cry from the greatness that was The Vintage Collection. While the more simplified look may work well with the more adult-oriented 6" line, I think I speak for most people when I say I'd welcome a return of the TVC-like card back, or even a 30th Anniversary-like card back. Do you see the packaging changing (for The Force Awakens) or are we to expect the same black card backs that we're unfortunately getting used to now?
A: No comment (TFA related question.)

Q: Are we getting a new mail-away figure?
A: No.

Q: Are there plans for any further TBS exclusives like we’ve seen through Walgreens and Target?
A: Hasbro can’t comment on Fall 2015.

Q: Are you finally taking TVC out of hibernation?
A: (Editor’s Note: I got the same answer I got in 2013 (multiple times) and 2014 (multiple times). I think if we actually STOP asking about it that it might indeed come back. Sigh.) Hasbro would love to bring it back but the timing has to be right. It will come back. It’s too important not to come back.

Q: How about changing up the colors for the Disney Droid Factory figures? the R3 domes done in black, green, and yellow; the R4 domes done in black, red, and yellow; the R5 domes done in purple and yellow and so on. introducing these and some other colors combinations while keeping the patterns and the tooling the same will surely boost sales for what has become a stale product.
A: Nothing is planned for Droid Factory.

Q: Exactly what have all the Hasbro executives been smoking for the past few years? You need a better dealer.
A: I refused to ask this question to Hasbro, sorry.

Q: For the 6" Black Series, will Hasbro carry forward any of the figures from earlier waves? Like R2D2 in Wave 1?
A: There are no plans yet for reissuing these figures.

Q: Concerning the Saga Legends/Mission Series 5 points of articulation figures, so far you have focused on producing main characters, Clones and Imperial Troops. Are you planning to expand those lines to include other categories of figures such as Original Trilogy Rebel Troopers, Cantina aliens, or perhaps Bespin characters?
A: These are possible, but not on the short list.

Q: It was a nice to see that Hasbro started to make strides with getting some figures into their customers hands by allowing solid cases of figures to be ordered. While it isn't the only problem that has contributed to the decline in product availability, one of the elephants in the room is the way Hasbro chooses to fill out a case assortment. Is there any way going forward that you will continue to offer solid cases, or even better, actively seek out guidance on how to pack a case assortment from brand influencers to prevent the kinds of failure we have seen the last couple of years (Han, Obi Wan 6", Yoda 3 3/4"). These were problems that could have been prevented.
A: Solid case assortment will indeed continue. They are constantly looking at ways to improve case assortments.

Q: Hasbro needs to listen more to their ravenous collector base and stop relying on their Research and Development departments, especially when developing "collector-focused" action figures. They are not making products that we want to buy. As a community, we feel ignored and forgotten. We're angry and losing interest in Hasbro. Question to Hasbro: What is Hasbro doing to win back their waning collector market, such as incorporating a regular Fan's Choice voting system into the line again?
A: Yes, the Fan’s Choice voting will hopefully continue through a different medium as announced in a previous question.

Q: Will there be a special wave with Vintage Collection type packaging [like VOTC/VTSC] that includes Bib Fortuna?
A: We have no current plans for this.

Q: The Class I or mini rig line was a lot of fun. It was too bad that it got cancelled. Do you have any plans of bringing back the mini rig type line and if so, what are the chances you could make up some vehicles that were notnecessarily seen onscreen, but would fit nicely into the SW toy universe?
A: Not in current plans, but possible.

Q: Question for Hasbro: I held off on buying the regular AT-DP on the very few occasions I actually saw one on the shelves, because I really want to get the Target exclusive version that comes with the AT-DP driver. Is this still coming? And should it be easy to find, or will it be a "blink and you miss it" type of thing?
A: Yes, the AT-DP Target exclusive is coming. So are the other vehicle/figure packs.

Q: What was with the cold shoulder for the last two years? Was it something we said! Don't get me wrong there have been highlights for 3.75" SA collectors but there have been some real duds and releases few and far between, please Hasbro tell your committed fans and loyal collectors the truth, oversight? lack of interest? or has the road we have travelled together for almost 20 years sadly coming to an end?
A: Hasbro feels that they’ve provided the collecting community with great products over the last couple of years. Volume has been lower, but still great products have been released.

Q: Hasbro - when exactly do you lose the Star Wars license? I would like to know when to start collecting again. Thank you.
A: I didn’t have the nerve to ask this question, sorry.

Q: With Marvel Star Wars comics being a recent success and the stories now considered canon, will new characters introduced there be incorporated in figure form in both scales anytime soon, perhaps maybe as comic packs? There is a new Wookie bounty hunter in Vader #1 that would be interesting to see in figure form.

AND

Are the new Marvel comics fair game to produce figures from?
A: Possible.

Q: We know you already have the fabulous mold for the 6" Han Solo in Carbonite. When might we see one individually package? Funko does a great job of getting their exclusives out to retailers so the fan who cannot make it to a comic con or other such event may also enjoy their figures.

AND

Back in 2013 The following was posted by Dave Martin [Myatt] on Rebelscum.com...

"While photographing the Hasbro display at San Diego Comic-Con this past Saturday, I overheard Derryl DePriest say to someone that the Carbonite block, which is part of the exclusive Black Series 6-Inch Boba Fett Action Figure With Han Solo In Carbonite Accessory 2-pack, would be available in another form down the road. Meaning, the extremely high prices that many collectors are spending right now to obtain one is just for the packaging. Hopefully this information will be of some use to you!"

Is this a possibility? If so how about Salacious Crumb and Jabba's dais as well?

By the way I love the look of the 6" Wampa that is soon to be released. Hopefully you have a 3 3/4" scaled counterpart in the works to go along with the Wampa damage Luke figure because he's getting lonely. I think a vintage style box would fit in nicely to accompany him!
A: Hasbro has talked about this, but nothing is impending at the moment.

Q: Why are you changing the already perfect clone trooper mold and giving the upcoming Thorn, Rex, and Doom less articulation?
A: Hasbro was unable to provide an answer. They will need to check with their designers.

Q: Darth Vader is one of the most recognizable and iconic villains in movie history. The announcement that HASBRO were releasing a 6" version in THE BLACK SERIES, had die hard collectors such as myself, eagerly anticipating this release. The end result wasn't as amazing as we'd hoped, with an over-sized chain, undersized helmet, cape that's attached to the armor, soft goods that are WAY too long and overall unpleasing final product - is there any chance that we might see a retooled 6" version of Darth Vader, one that looks like he did in the Original Trilogy, please?
A: There are no plans to visit Darth Vader and Hasbro feels the TBS6 figure came out well.

Q: Do you have any plans for continuing new Ewoks such as Chukha-Trok or Bretthup (Dalmatian Ewok)?

AND

Where is the long rumored Chukha-Trok?
A: There are no plans for Chukha-Trok. It’s likely that the Dalmatian Ewok will never see release (Editor’s Note: I begged for them to release this figure.)

Q: The upcoming Emperor figure seems to lose the quality of the sculpt with its ill fitting cloth robe. I understand soft goods are used to get the most out of poseability, but it seems an odd choice for the Emperor who has a plastic lower tunic already inhibiting the articulation points in the legs. In the future would Hasbro consider plastic robes and capes as they did for Maul in wave 1? They just scale better and give a more finished, premium look to this collector focused line. Thanks!
A: Soft-goods may be plus or minus a few spots of length out of what was scheduled or planned for these figures. Hasbro will continue to look for the best ways to incorporate soft-goods in future figures.

Q: As a Leia fan, while it feels like it's been a rather long drought, except for Slave Leia 6", it appears that several new Leia figures are in the near future. This is really amazing. It seems like Carrie Fisher's likeness has always been difficult to nail down, but the Cerimonal Gown Leia recently shown looks drastically different than Fisher ("Supermodel Leia"). As development on the figure has progressed, has this been addressed? How important is likeness in terms of design priorities? Anything else to tease Leia-related (fantasy: return of the Princess Leia collection).
A: Hasbro is not able to comment at this time.

Q: Will collectors be seeing more realistically styled, standard articulated, 3.75 inch figures from The Clone Wars series such as Asajj Ventress? It had been stated that she would see some attention at some point.
A: There are no current plans for Asajj Ventress at the moment, but Hasbro hopes to bring more characters from TCW into the lineup.

Q: Why does Hasbro not have an Australian store online here?
A: Nothing is standing out as odd in Australasia as far as poor distribution issues. They will need examples in order to better understand the issues.

Q: What happened to Saga Legends 5 POA figures being a kid friendly AFFORDABLE line at $4.99-$5.99??? We're paying what we paid for 14-16 POA a few years ago. Mission Series are a bargain at $9.99, but the whole point of 5 POA was supposed to be a cheap price point for kids/parents/gift buyers.
A: Hasbro’s goal is to keep the Saga Legends line at $5.99. This one is definitely at the retail level.

Q: Have you any plans to release in the 6"line ANH Leia, Luke Tatooine & Ben Kenobi?
A: Farmboy Luke is a good choice and Obi-Wan Kenobi is possible.

Q: Last NYCC we were told that there "aren’t any plans" to get the cancelled Phase 1 Captain Rex out. Any plans now?
A: Hasbro likes Captain Rex, has plans for Captain Rex, but right now there are no plans at all to get out the figure shown back in 2013 that was meant to be part of the Legacy Collection Droid Factory lineup.

Q: Is The Old Republic still off-limits for figures? Will fans ever get to see the two SWTOR figures that were made but never released?
A: Yes, it is still off limits.

Q: With the recent import dock issues on the West Coast has Hasbro looked into another port or way to get all of their 2015 Star Wars product into the country on time in case this problem persists or repeats?
A: The port negotiations issue is only one piece of the problem.

Q: Hasbro, there seems to be a serious disconnect between Hasbro HQ and the paying customers at ground level. The evidence of unsold, uninspired, cheaply made product is all around us on the shelves tarnishing not just the Star Wars product license but your company brand. Are you seriously that unaware of your buying market and do you truly pay any attention at a senior company level to the punters and collectors on the street and in the forums?
A: Yes, absolutely, Hasbro checks sites like this often enough. They feel that they will never be able to please 100% of the collecting community, but they’re striving to engage as many as possible.

Q: Any hints on the next 6” vehicle.
A: No. But Hasbro asked what we would like to see. I mentioned an X-wing fighter, TIE fighter and landspeeder. They said that the X-wing would be gigantic and asked what I would be willing to pay for it. I said completely decked out? $149.99. They said that was a good price.

Q: Any chance Hasbro will make international merchandise (such as the Mexico release of the TBS 6" wave 4 packs and Proto type Boba Fett lithograph) available for U.S. customers.
A: Hasbro wasn’t even aware these were made and released. Hasbro also stated that their local colleagues create offerings specific to their markets and that it is likely that Mexico did in this case.

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